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Spanish opposition calls on PM Rajoy to step down

Press TV – February 3, 2013

Spain’s socialist opposition leader has called on Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to step down as the growing corruption scandal threatens his reliability in tackling the ongoing economic crisis.

“Rajoy should give up his role as the head of government (because) he cannot tackle the very difficult situation confronting Spain,” Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba told reporters on Sunday.

This is while a poll, released on Saturday, shows that public support for Rajoy and his ruling People’s Party (PP) has fallen to 23.9 percent which is the lowest since the 2011 election and down from 29.8 percent in the same poll last month.

Some 77 percent of the respondents said they disapproved of Rajoy as the head of the government, 85 percent said they had little or no faith in him and 80 percent said the PP leaders had to resign.

The center-left newspaper El Pais published on Thursday account ledgers showing donations being channeled into secret payments to Rajoy and other party leaders.

The newspaper claimed that the premier had received 25,200 euros a year between 1997 and 2008. It also said that the fund was collected mostly from construction firms, adding that such payments would be legal if they were fully declared to the taxman.

Rajoy on Saturday rejected the allegations, saying he would publish “statements of income, patrimony and any information necessary” to prove the claims are “false.”

The allegations have sparked anger among the Spanish people who have been asked to accept harsh austerity measures as the government was trying to prevent an international bailout.

Thousands of protesters gathered in different cities calling for the resignation of Rajoy following his denial of corruption allegations.

February 3, 2013 Posted by | Corruption | , , , | Leave a comment

NATO to continue European missile plan despite Russian criticism

Press TV – February 3, 2013

tahmasebi20130203002448443NATO says it will continue to install a missile system in Europe despite Russia’s opposition.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen made the announcement on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

“We have made clear from the outset that NATO has made the decision to establish a NATO missile defense system because it’s our obligation to ensure effective defense of our populations… Having said that, we have invited Russia to cooperate and… now it’s up to Russia to engage in that,” Rasmussen said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier that the missile program was reminiscent of the Cold War.

“Officially, we have abandoned the mindset of the Cold War,” Lavrov said.

On January 27, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he saw “no flexibility” in the ongoing dispute.

“If we talk about the subject itself, it is extremely difficult. And so far we don’t see any flexibility… There is no flexibility,” Medvedev added.

February 3, 2013 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iran, P5+1 to meet on Feb. 25 in Kazakhstan: Salehi

Press TV – February 3, 2013

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi says the next round of comprehensive talks between Iran and six world powers will be held in Kazakhstan on February 25, 2013.

Salehi made the announcement in his Sunday speech on the third day of the 49th annual Munich Security Conference in Germany.

Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany — known as the P5+1 group — have held several rounds of talks with main focus on Iranian nuclear energy program. The last round of negotiations between the two sides was held in Moscow in June 2012.

The United States, Israel, and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Iran rejects the allegation, arguing that as a committed signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it is entitled to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

In addition, the IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities but has never found any evidence showing that the Iranian nuclear program has been diverted towards weapons production.

February 3, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hollywood myths harming the whole world: Ken O’Keefe

Press TV – February 3, 2013

A prominent human rights activist says Hollywood films and other media portray a false account of US history, perpetuating great harm to Americans and the rest of the world.

On the latest episode of Press TV’s Cinepolitics, panelists discuss Hollywood’s impact on global politics and society, with a particular examination of Steven Spielberg’s use of psychological manipulation and disinformation in his recent film “Lincoln”.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Ken O’Keefe, human rights activist, to further discuss the issue. O’Keefe is joined by Maria Duarte, a film critic with The Morning Star. The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: How accurate was this portrayal?

O’Keefe: It was another nauseating example of Hollywood propaganda and it really has no resemblance to the truth.

In fact, there was another Lincoln movie that came out earlier that year, Lincoln the Vampire Slayer, and I reckon that there was just about as much – I’m not kidding when I say there’s just about as much evidence to support Lincoln as a vampire slayer as there is about him wanting the end of slavery and freeing black people. There’s no historical truth to that whatsoever.

Lincoln’s life is a testament to the fact that he was a man of his time. He used the word n***** repeatedly in his life. He never had any kind of an epiphany and changed his perspective. He never cared anything about freeing the slaves.

This was all about concentrating power, maintaining the union and concentrating more power in the Federal government.

The implications of that bloody war, Civil War, and concentration of power into the Federal government, we see to this very day. That’s why I’m not going to forgive Spielberg or the propagandists of Hollywood for this kind of junk because it perpetuates myths that cause great harm in this world.

Press TV: I have a letter from president [Lincoln] himself to Horace Greeley where he says, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the union; it is not either to save or to destroy slavery.” He goes on to say, “What I do about slavery and the colored race I do because I believe it helps to save this union.”

…Do you think that this Lincoln movie corrects his image? -Because historically, I believe that he was shown as a villain.

O’Keefe: Well, there’s no question that in America there’s a cult surrounding the mythological Lincoln and it protects him very, very well.

I suppose there are many important reasons why the powers that be want to maintain this myth because the American people in general don’t want to face many facts about their country. Hell, they’re not even able to understand the fact that it’s not actually a democracy; it’s a republic.

Under a republic, the states are supposed to have rights.

In fact, the Federal government – the original founding fathers envisioned the United States of America, i.e. nation states of America, was that the states would be able to determine their own political reality and that the Federal government would only have so much power as would be required for it to maintain certain duties.

Instead, what we have, and that’s where the implications of this film are quite so profound, is the beginning of the concentration of power to the point that we see the American empire now at this point in time running roughshod over the world.

If that Federal government had been kept in check and the states had been allowed to make up their own minds and decisions, slavery would have ended. Let us not mistake the fact that America’s the only nation in the world that had a bloody civil war that had to deal with slavery.

Every other country in the world managed to do this without such a bloody war. They did it before the United States, as well.

Lincoln was not this great emancipator.

In fact, the Emancipation Proclamation did not free any slaves at all. It only provided the means for slaves in the South that were rebelling against the Union because they were trying to increase taxes and so on and so forth. That’s the only people that it dealt with.

It didn’t do anything to free the slaves up North, and there were slaves there as well.

Really, there’s just so many myths. Again, the implications of maintaining these myths is that the American people and others around the world continue to be in the dark about the real reality of American history. I think that’s an important subject for us to be aware of.

Press TV: Ken, what do you think about that scene [in the beginning of the movie]?

O’Keefe: It was a noxious scene, and it was the first scene in the film.

There is simply no way that black men would have had an audience with the president in that kind of context and actually been affectively sort-of chastising Lincoln for more equality not coming that much quicker. It’s ridiculous!

I can see how it would work on much of the American population because it’s been so dumbed down that most people will swallow whatever is put into their mouths no matter how much rubbish it is. That was an absolutely ridiculous scene. There’s more such scenes like that later on in the film.

Press TV: Ken, what do you think [of the relationship between Lincoln and his wife]?

O’Keefe: Wherever it can take liberty with issues that we can’t possibly know the real details, it does. And where it comes to historical realities, it just blatantly, intentionally, willfully deceives the viewers.

I wouldn’t be surprised if these kind of exchanges are so far from the truth that it bears no resemblance to anything that actually happened. At the same time, I don’t know enough about their personal relationship to say it’s accurate or not.

Press TV: In the House of Representatives there’s obviously a lot of interaction – the Republicans and Democrats are actually at each other’s throats. How do you think they’ve been portrayed? Was it accurate, their view towards slavery?

O’Keefe: Party politics obviously was a factor then as it is now. So, that was definitely somewhat accurate, I would say.

The truth of the matter is that the abolitionists were clearly in the minority. This idea that all the Republicans were very much in agreement about freeing slaves and what not is again completely ridiculous.

Again, when we see these sort of debates and the idea that Republicans are for this and the Democrats are against it, that’s simply not true.

The abolitionists – if you want to give credit to anyone in America for actually helping to bring about the end of slavery or at least get that issue to the floor, it is a very small minority of abolitionists who really did stand for that. It certainly wasn’t Lincoln, that’s for sure.

Press TV: Somebody, I think a historian, accused the film of exaggerating the possibility that by January the war might have ended with slavery still intact. Do you think that’s an accurate statement to make?

O’Keefe: It’s true but the fact is that slavery would have ended one way or the other. In fact, it was becoming quite unprofitable.

The Civil War was really sort of a tax revolt. The union, the Federal government, was exercising powers that were being abused and those abusive powers were translating into higher taxes for the Southerners. This was making life too difficult for them. That is why, ultimately, they revolted. That’s really what this is about.

Press TV: And the wealth was actually in the South, the cotton mills, the plantations…

Do you think that Spielberg is guilty of presenting possibly a utopian vision of the US?

O’Keefe: Yeah, it’s perpetuating the myth. The myth of America is freedom and democracy and so on and so forth. In fact, it’s an empire. It’s the latest empire. Like all other empires, it’s falling and it’s going to continue to go down.

Also, in that scene it shows another one of those lies, that Lincoln was somehow a most adored and loved president. Actually, he was probably one of the most hated, certainly one of the most hated.

Press TV: Mary says this on the film. His wife, she says you’re one of the most loved.

O’Keefe: Yeah, that’s not true at all. Only after he was killed did we find some sympathy for him. Actually, many people in America, in facts large numbers of people would have celebrated his death. He was in fact one of the most hated presidents.

This is just another blatant lie. You cannot say that that is an accident. It’s intentional. It’s a willful intent to deceive the audience.

Press TV: I read an academic online. She said she was going to be using this film as part of an aid in her history classrooms. I thought, is this the version of events that’s being presented to future generation in textbooks?

O’Keefe: I think there are some good teachers out there who will teach in a more accurate understanding.

But largely there is a cult protecting the myth of not only Lincoln but of the US as a whole. Of course, it would be no surprise at all that students are being cheated out of a real understanding of history and ultimately being told this sort of rubbish. This will help perpetuate that kind of misunderstanding.

Press TV: You’ve mentioned something earlier. Yes, the acting was superb but if you’d done it with the accurate facts, it would have made it all the more better.

O’Keefe: With that kind of resource, you know, that kind of acting talent, the producers, everything that’s involved in a movie of that magnitude, if it were done accurately, it would have been a hugely important and beautiful film. I’ll agree, the acting, it’s incredible.

But if you had given the actors a real script that reflected an honest understanding of what had really happened, then it would have been a magnificent film.

Of course, Spielberg is not in the business of making historically accurate films. He’s in the business of propaganda and he’s done it well once again.

February 3, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Ongoing Saga of Bad Websourcing: Does Al-Monitor Even Have Editors?

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America | January 31, 2013

It is becoming increasingly obvious that prolific Israeli commentator Meir Javedanfar is unaware of the purpose of hyperlinks.

In his January 30 Al-Monitor article (which incidentally needs some major copy editing, but didn’t get it), Javedanfar writes, “Iran is also using Syria as a proxy to weaken the Syrian opposition forces, which it sees as the allies of the West, Saudi Arabia and even Israel.”

The link on “Israel” leads to a PressTV article wherein no Iranian makes any such claim. It just quotes the Israeli President Shimon Peres as supporting the Syrian opposition. No loony Persian conspiracy theories or official statements by Iranian political or military leaders.  So why does Javedanfar use this particular link when the claim he makes is about what Iran “sees as…”?  For the answer, go here.

Furthermore, that the US, European countries and Arab Gulf states are not only “allies of” but literally funding, equipping and arming the Syrian opposition is common knowledge that doesn’t need to be pawned off as some crazy Iranian allegation. It’s also easily accessible information. See all those links? Yeah, it’s that easy.

One additional point: Javedanfar’s use of the term “proxy” to describe Iran’s relationship with Syria is bizarre and demonstrates either a lack of understanding about what that word means or about how civil wars work.  A “proxy” is a subordinate agent or organization that takes its cues from and whose interests are beholden to a more powerful, external benefactor.  It doesn’t make much sense to refer to a sovereign government (especially one that is itself embroiled in a bloody civil war), rather than a non-governmental organization or group, as a proxy of another sovereign government.

Yes, there are exceptions to this – for example, nations like Palau, the Marshall Islands, and Micronesia are often used as U.S. proxies during United Nations General Assembly votes against Israeli accountability and the implementation of international law in Palestine.  But those nations don’t have interests of their own in that particular region; also, they are party to the Compact of Free Association with the United States, which mandates American military protection, financial assistance and economic provisions for these tiny Pacific Island states in return for diplomatic fealty (the nations vote alongside the U.S. and Israel in the U.N. more than 90% of the time, for example) and, more importantly, essentially wide-open U.S. military access.

As per the agreement, established in 1986 (and 1994 for Palau as an independent entity), these protectorates – which were previously under American trusteeship since the end of World War II – must grant the U.S. military exclusive access to their territories and provide land for military bases, not to mention accommodating the constant presence of U.S. military recruiters who have long preyed upon the poor local communities with promises of economic opportunity.  In 2010, the Christian Science Monitor reported that “while some Micronesians see the US military as their ticket out, many here are poorly informed of the risks. The FSM has suffered more casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan per capita than any US state, and has lost soldiers at a rate five times the US average. Some recruits sign on unaware the US is fighting two wars.”

But I digress.

Javedanfar calls the Assad-led Syrian government a proxy of Iran, which Iran is using against Syrian opposition forces which means that the Syrian government is doing Iran’s bidding by fighting against armed rebel militias in its own country than are trying to overthrow it.  Huh? The Syrian government may be getting support – both financial and military – from Iran, but that doesn’t make it a lackey of Iran, which is what the term proxy signifies.  It is obviously in Assad’s own interest to oppose forces seeking to topple his dictatorial reign; he doesn’t need Iran’s say-so to do what he’s doing.

Yet, by Javedanfar’s reading, the conflict is really between Iran and Syrian opposition forces.  The Syrian government, according to him, is merely a pawn in Iran’s game against Israel and the West.  This both obfuscates and confuses the issue.  (The term proxy itself is overused when discussing allegiances and alliances in the region; both Hezbollah and Hamas are routinely referred to as Iranian proxies yet the fact that they don’t have their interests or actions dictated to them by the Iranian government as they are indigenous groups with their own goals and responsibilities.)

While it’s obvious what Javedanfar is trying to say – in the assumed power struggle over influence in the Middle East, Iran and the West/Gulf alliance are each protecting their own interests in Syria (duh) – but that’s not really what he wrote.  The problem here may be poor writing skills, but isn’t that where an editor should step in and clarify?

One last thing: Javedanfar suggests that to prevent the alleged Syrian stockpile of chemical weapons from “falling into the hands of al-Qaeda” were “an extremist offshoot” of the group to seize power after Assad’s supposed fall, those weapons should be transferred to…wait for it…Iran.

Why, you may ask? Because Javedanfar states that, Iran having chemical weapons is “infinitely better” than al-Qaeda having them, provided that is “the only other viable option.”  Sure, ok.  But he never explains why that would be the only option or points out that the backers of criminal al-Qaeda-affiliated elements in the Syrian opposition are the very states he says are duking it out with Iran in a proxy war.  How could Iran getting chemical weapons be part of the end-game in Syria as far as the West, Israel and Saudi Arabia are concerned?

It can’t and won’t be.  Which makes Javedanfar’s commentary not only pointless, but just plain weird.

What he’s really saying, though, is that he wants Syria’s alleged chemical weapons stockpile to get as far away from him, his family and his friends who are living in Israel as possible.  This is understandable, of course, but does it really necessitate a prominently displayed opinion piece on Al-Monitor that no editor took a look at before it was published?

February 3, 2013 Posted by | Deception | , , , , | Leave a comment

Syrian TV shows ‘aftermath’ footage, Israel implicitly admits to airstrike

RT | February 3, 2013

Syrian TV has broadcast images of what it said was the aftermath of an Israeli airstrike on a research facility near Damascus. Israel has implicitly admitted it was behind the raid, which allegedly targeted a weapons convoy headed to Lebanon.

The footage broadcast on Saturday by Al-Ikhbariya TV and Syrian state TV showed destroyed cars, trucks and military vehicles, and a damaged building with its windows broken and interior damaged. The video was allegedly shot at Jamraya, northwest of Damascus. The Syrian military earlier said that Israeli jets bombed the area.

Israel has not officially confirmed the allegations. But on Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that “What happened in Syria several days ago… that’s proof that when we said something we mean it. We say that we don’t think it should be allowed to bring advanced weapons systems into Lebanon.”

“Hezbollah from Lebanon and the Iranians are the only allies that [Syrian President Bashar] Assad has left,” Barak told reporters at a security conference in Munich, adding that the “imminent” fall of the Assad government “will be a major blow to the Iranians and Hezbollah.”

Earlier, it was reported that the Wednesday airstrike targeted a convoy carrying SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles to Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon. The advanced Russian-made missiles would have enabled troops in Lebanon to target Israeli warplanes, which can currently intrude into Lebanese airspace unopposed.

The reports were denied by the Syrian military, which said that no such weapons transfer had been planned.

Damascus vowed to retaliate against the Israeli airstrike, while Syrian rebel forces battling the government criticized President Bashar Assad for not responding to the bombing.

On Sunday, President Assad accused Israel of trying to destabilize Syria through the attack. He warned that Syria will confront “current threats… and aggression” against it during a meeting in Damascus with Iranian national security council secretary Saeed Jalili. The remarks were the Syrian leader’s first public comment on the airstrike since it happened on Wednesday.

Israel maintains the most advanced military of any nation in the region, and has carried out a number of airstrikes against foreign targets over the past few decades. The latest high-profile incident attributed to Israel was the bombing of an arms factory in Khartoum, Sudan, last October.

Israeli jets also reportedly bombed Syria in 2007, destroying what was alleged to be a nuclear reactor being constructed with the help of North Korea.

Israel and Syria are embroiled in an ongoing land dispute over a portion of the Golan Heights occupied by the Jewish state during the Six-Day War of 1967. The two countries do not maintain formal diplomatic relations, and hostilities between the two have been sparked on several occasions, most recently in the 2006 Lebanon war.

Israel has avoided interfering in Syria’s ongoing 22-month-long armed conflict, but said it would deploy troops if needed to secure Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles and prevent them from being captured by Islamist forces.

VIDEO

February 3, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment